mental illness

Eye of the storm

Authenticity is important to me.  So, I feel I can’t talk about wellbeing without covering the times when mine falls over, when I can’t and don’t cope.  So, let me tell you about today as I write this as an attempt at some soft therapy.


Today was a blinding fall. Sometimes depression and anxiety are like accosters in the night.  It’s like someone that assaults you in the darkness, dragging you away and holding you by the throat and heart until you feel you might die.


Today I had that feeling of impending doom, the fog was drawing in faster than I could run from it.  It has been building a while and it was warranted.  Little did I realise the macabre duo of anxiety (A) and depression (D) had decided to get together and form a double pronged attack.  I mean, they don’t show up often now and when they do it tends to be on a job share basis, so to get them both at once was pretty gruesome.


It’s difficult to describe, that moment when they both grab hold.  D grabs your heart and sits on it, making it feel heavier than iron.  When you try and walk around with it, it feels like you’re dragging a big dog that is refusing to walk, so eventually you give in to it. D also makes you feel that your heart contains no love, not for yourself or from others.  I felt pointless to the world, a thorn in the side of the universe and all those in it and not worthy of the life blood running through my veins. Heavy stuff, right?  Well, logic and reason tend to leave the building when D takes hold


So, let’s move on to anxiety (A).  A is a different type of abuser, more active and cunning in many ways.  Today she used my head like a witch would use a cauldron, but instead of adding herbs and magic, she added worry, inferiority and feelings of uselessness.  Anxiety feels like someone has given you a dance drug but with none of the ecstasy, just the horrible heart racing comedown that follows.  My ego likes to feed A.  I try to calm her down but the ego will keep giving her fuel; ‘look at everyone on social media with their happy families, having great times, looking better.  Why can’t you be like that?  Why do you think nobody likes you? How do you think you’ll be successful when you’re like this?  What do you think your dad will think?’


So why didn’t I cope – I mean coping is what I help others with, right?


I’ve been talking about wellbeing for years so I must have more coping mechanisms than I know what to do with right?  It’s true I have many coping mechanisms from yoga to meditation to tv to breathing to Tibetan sound bowls.  However, sometimes even those don’t hold the answers.  With days like today I wholeheartedly fail at coping and simply have to surrender and wave a white flag.


When these two b*stards have my heart and head in a firm choke hold, reasoning with them doesn’t help. My body goes into panic mode and I cannot breathe.   My heart feels like it’s about to stop beating and all I can do is cry.  I feel pathetic and too fragile to survive this world and to be honest I’m not even sure that I want to.  The battle between the two can be ferocious; D wants you to sleep as you feel useless and pathetic yet A wants you wide awake, worrying about the fact you are useless and wants to feed you 101 reasons why.


So, what brought it on?


The million dollar question. Sometimes there’s an obvious reason – a huge knock that takes you out at the knees.  Sometimes there’s something small, which when added to the thirteen other little niggles, is the straw that breaks the camels back.  Other times you just don’t know.


I’ve had a few months of straws being piled on my back – highs and lows.  Working for myself means I’ve had to be tough, but when I lost a few big contracts last week, it made me question my worth.  Being self-employed is also really f*cking lonely.  I sometimes miss the office banter and the social life that comes with work; working from home can be quite isolating.  I’ve lost lots of friends recently as I’ve been evolving in myself as a person and it really hurts – losing them is my fault as I don’t feel they will want to know the ‘changing me’ but it doesn’t make it any easier.  When you feel like this and you have nobody to turn to then it multiplies the issue.


My evolution, as I alluded to is something that excites and confuses me.  I’m connecting to myself more spiritually but I don’t feel I know what my place is in the world at times.  I feel disconnected to people and places in my own life.


From a medical point of view, after fifteen years of antidepressants I decided to stop them. I felt sick of being desensitised to life, but maybe didn’t appreciate the reliance/impact these drugs had on my totality.


Lastly, the grief I feel for the loss of my father.  The guilt over that and the sadness of my mum being alone comes over me in waves, like a swift kick up the ass as I’m walking out the door.


Did I recognise the signs?


Yes I did.  The last few weeks I have been overreacting to tiny things.  I’ve been manic with joy after small wins but then really down over small issues such as breaking a glass.


I’ve been drinking more – whether it’s a good day or a bad day.  That’s always a sign that I need to deal with something and am trying to make it go away.


I’ve been sleeping more in the day and wide awake at night.  Depression makes me want to turn my mind off in the daytime whereas anxiety likes to evaluate every mistake since year dot when the lights go out.


I’ve been scatty, unable to think in a linear way, plan or apply logic.


Despite these signs I fell from a great height.  I tried to apply all the coping mechanisms I had in my back pocked to stop today happening but it still did.


What’s my conclusion – can this help anyone going through the same?


Well writing this has helped me a little so that’s great.  I guess, what I want to tell others is that recovery isn’t a straight forward process.  Think of it as a game of snakes and ladders where you’ll have weeks of constantly going up ladders, but other times it’s like you hit every snake.  Not to sound too American, but the moral of the story is to take a rest at the bottom of the snake and do what you need to do to survive. There’s no pressure to start climbing again, not until you’re ready.


Today I have literally been pinned to my bed by D and A.  It’s debilitating, terrifying and exhausting.  I’ve been up for an hour which I’ve spent writing this and I am starting to feel like I am worthy of being on the earth.  What keeps me going (drama queen moment) is that tomorrow will be better.  There is hope.  There are people that love me (even if I can’t see it now) and I will beat this.


A thirty something, fifties inspired traveller with a love of home comforts and pretty things. Lives in Norwich, plays in London.

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